Copying Another Crafter’s Design versus Getting Inspiration

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As a seller, there is a thin line between outright copying someone else’s design and drawing inspiration from it. If you’ve starting selling your handmade Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explore projects online, a customer will eventually send you a picture of something they found online and want you to recreate it. Should you do it? In my opinion, no – don’t copy another seller’s designs exactly, but offer to recreate a similar item and put your own spin on it. In my experience, most customers want something changed on the original design and this usually works great! But, if your customer doesn’t like that idea there’s two things you can do: 1) Find out if the file is available for purchase with commercial use rights or 2) Refer the customer to the original seller if you can find them.

How to Find Out if a Design is Original or a Purchased File

As an example, a neighbor recently sent me this photo and asked me to recreate the wall decal for her laundry room:

Ethics in your cutting business- Should you copy and sell other people's designs to your customers?

The first thing I did was go to Google Images and search the internet for the photo. (If you aren’t familiar with how Google Images works, it is just a portion of Google that allows you to search by an image, rather than a phrase. You can click the camera icon and then upload your photo and click search.) After searching, I found about 60 very similar images, and the exact same design being sold by multiple designers:

Ethics in your cutting business- Should you copy and sell other people's designs to your customers?

Now what? The same exact decal showing up in Google Images means that it is likely a file that I can purchase from somewhere, so I head to Google.com and type in “It all comes out in the wash cut file”. Nothing came up except shops selling the design. Next, I try “Laundry room svg file” in Google. The first result is myvinyldesigner.com, and I found it. The downloadable cut file is $1.95.

Ethics in your cutting business- Should you copy and sell other people's designs to your customers?

I tell my neighbor that yes, I can create the same decal and arrange to collect payment – then I purchase the cut file online. But, what if I hadn’t been able to find the exact file? I would assume that the seller created the file and I would not outright copy it. Like I mentioned earlier, offer the same saying in a different font or arrangement or send the customer to the original designer. Don’t be afraid to tell your customer that you will not outright copy another designer’s work. They will probably appreciate your honesty and integrity, and they likely wouldn’t have realized it was taboo before asking.

If a design of yours has been copied or an image stolen, head to this post.

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Copying Another Crafter's Design versus Getting Inspiration (Great for Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Crafters) - by cuttingforbusiness.com

 

6 thoughts on “Copying Another Crafter’s Design versus Getting Inspiration”

  1. I have a question in regards to purchasing the design. Maybe I missed it, but when you found the design for sale online and purchased it, how do you know that that seller was the designer, and not just another shop selling someone else’s design? Or is it OK to purchase it from any store, as long as you’re paying for it? In other posts you mentioned that just because someone else is selling it, it doesn’t mean it’s legal. It seems like it can be tricky to find the actual designer and purchase it from them, and not just another shop replicating it for themselves. Thanks!

  2. I am new to this so want to do this right.
    If I find a design, i understand I can find an svg file.
    But as far as inspiration, can I use the same wording but different design? I mean as long as they don’t have it trademarked?
    I found one saying I love but I don’t love the design they used.

  3. Hi – late to this post, but I’m searching for legal requirements regarding buying a digital SVG file and then selling the physically made product. Can I do this?!?

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